Welcome to the Images Through The Door Blog. I started this blog with the thoughts of sharing some thoughts and musings, as well as information and data on upcoming shows, or tips about photography and where I have been lately. I welcome your comments and thoughts. Happy reading!
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At many times in our lives, we are faced with decisions - some easy, some not. While some, like what shirt should I wear today are basic decisions and routine, many others can be turning points for us. That is where I am today; a crossroad, a change, a decision.
I have recently returned from a three week trip through Colorado, Utah and Oregon. While I did do some photography work - as evidenced by the image above of the Painted Hills in Oregon - much of this trip was of a more spiritual nature. It was to get in touch with myself, look at the things with which I struggle, and to reawaken my heart. Obviously, this needs a lot more time than three weeks :), so this was just a starting point for the continued journey I will take in seeking wisdom and enlightenment. I am, as Pema Chodron puts it, starting with where I am.
I love photography and art. As I have worked in these mediums, I found I have grown not only in my artistic development, but in my connection with nature and seeing - really SEEING the things that surround us. This has been the source of expression and joy for me, and sharing that with others is part of that joy. When I started my business in 2010, my plan was to do just that - share with others - through a website, social media, showings, and working with some wonderful people in local area Botanical Gardens to teach, and give back. The giving back is still important for me, and I know I will still be doing that in some way or form. But the form may look a little different going forward.
And so here is the change. I will be dissolving my business by the end of 2015. I will still have my website for a time to continue to share images and my blog, but there are changes even with that not yet fully decided. While I am saddened to do this, my recent journey allowed me to take a long and hard look at this in the bright light of reality, and know in my head and heart that it is time to let go. I don't consider this a failure - a failure would have been to not even try - and I have learned so much over the past 5 years that I can honestly say this has been an unqualified success. My eyes have opened and seen so many beautiful places and things, and I have met wonderful people. The great thing is that will continue, and that's pretty awesome. It will just be without a business card, and paperwork, and tax filings and regulations.........
I got to this place with much help of friends, family, and the kindness of new acquaintances I made along the way, and they are what make life special and loving. Thank you especially to my wonderful Rich, and to Pam and Al. And to all who gave me support and encouragement, blessings on you all.
And so, my dears, life evolves, change happens, and it is up to us how we react and respond. I know I will be led to the path that is the right path if I am still and listen. Wisdom comes out of our seeing clearly in each moment and challenge. Wisdom comes not from one experience, or through collected knowledge. Wisdom comes when we will live with full openness and sincerity, with compassion for others and ourselves.
Even though it's Halloween, I wanted to post something I had heard about recently that really brought home the meaning of team, and of living in the moment.
This is about 19 year old Lauren Hill. Lauren knows that time is special and precious. About a year ago, Lauren was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her brain, and despite treatment, there was no cure. Her doctors estimated she only had about 12 months to live before the tumor took her life. For many people, this would have been devastating, yet Lauren not only stayed optimistic through this, she saw it as an opportunity to show others how to understand the importance of each and every moment.
Life, as we all know, can often throw you curveballs and things that can give you pause to ponder.
Yes, it has been a while since my last blog, and I hope that I have not lost those few who were following. This past year has been challenging and stressful, and I have been questioning my work and asking if I have discovered my artistic voice and vision.
I know that others have gone or are going through similar thoughts and feelings. We have a passion for what we do, we put our heart and soul into it and find it often passes without notice. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Art is about creating your vision, not about creating things to have them validated by others. Artists have a desire, a NEED to be creative, to express themselves in their chosen field and work to feed that desire. They create to create. They aren't looking to be the next great thing or commercially successful, or to be "liked" on social media. They are single minded in their work. They have moved from emulating those they admired and from working to seek approval to focused determination to hone their vision more finely, to grow as they delve deeper into their work, stepping stones from one place to the next, ever upward. This is hard work, and it takes time and a lot of introspection and well, guts.
Photographer Freeman Patterson described three obstacles in the path of anyone who works to channel creative energy into projects or work:
-Inability to concentrate and tune out the constant drum of sights and sounds that surround you and demand your time and attention.
-Lack of awareness of your own artistic motivations and interests that would suggest subject matter and a path forward.
-Preoccupation with the self in such a way that you cannot step outside of yourself to fully pursue your creative interests.
Chances are that many of us can identify with one of these obstacles ( I know I can!) and as the saying goes, awareness is the first step. We have barriers in doing creative work and we face these brick walls again and again. They challenge us - often. They can be overcome by planning strategies to tackle them. You have to understand and recognize when they come up and have a plan. Then you can do it again because you know what works. It's a returning to yourself - looking inward and seeing your true self and getting fully in touch with who you are. It's tuning out the noise and seeing things as they are, not as how we project them to be.
I recently read a great article about a sculptor who took some of his work to a well respected dealer to be evaluated. The dealer pronounced his work skilled, but that it was too similar to the style of another sculptor and not unique. This brought his obstacle into startling clarity - he was not working toward his own motivation. It took time and a lot of trial and error, but he discovered his own style and vision, and now creates incredibly beautiful pieces, each truly reflecting his voice.
Overcoming barriers is a process, and as artists we must look at what gives us direction and feeds our need. We must seek to explore and discover, to fail and to fall, and then to get up again taking what we have learned and start anew. We must return to the reason we create, the feelings we want to convey, the thoughts that are ours. We must lose ourselves and journey to the our true artist within. In a way, this blog is part of that journey for me.
Connect with your creative side, kindle your passion and ask yourself what feeds your soul. It may take asking many times, work and rework - but never give up your quest and never give up on finding your vision. Shake off the negative and begin again. It matters, and you matter and your work matters. Return again to yourself, and just be. Just be, like the dawning of the day. Return again and celebrate the uniqueness that is you, the true and beautiful.
Last weekend I conducted a workshop at the Bellevue Botanical Garden for people interested in garden and flower photography. It was a lovely day, and everyone in the workshop was a joy with whom to work and share time together. It once again revealed to me why I love teaching these classes so much - I love being able to interact with people of all ages who have a passion for photography and who appreciate the beauty of nature.
Being surrounded by flowers in full bloom it is easy to feel wonderful and happy. But when the season is starting to reach the end, and not everything is looking so new, we might feel differently. If we look more openly, though, we will always find something that has poetry and beauty and perhaps even something that might surprise us. We only need to look. This perfect flower was my surprise - color and texture and symmetry and beauty in one simple bloom.
The garden is like life - it too has seasons, full bloom and fading, beauty and age, each offering something different and new. We should not think that time diminishes it, because each life season is rare and special. New growth and old each living together, supporting and nurturing, growing and giving life for the next season to come. Each has a purpose just as we all do.
I find my own appreciation of the beauty of nature helps me understand my purpose and my time on this earth. I cherish time I am able to spend enjoying nature. I feel at peace when I am in a botanic garden or national park. Being surrounded by mountains or listening to a waterfall or walking on a trail uplifts my spirit and all other stresses just simply fall away. I become one with my surroundings, even if it is only for a brief time and I return renewed and my soul nurtured.
This reason for me is why preserving natural areas is vital and tremendously important. At a time when conspicuous consumption is rampant, we need to conserve and protect special places like our National Parks and wildernesses. Even something as easy as joining your local botanic garden can help keep these little spots of beauty alive. They are greatly important to us and for those to come after.
So take time - no, MAKE time in your busy life of work and getting kids ready to start school, errand running, and crazy schedules to get outside into nature and let her wonderful healing flow into you. Bring friends, significant others, children, parents, grandparents, teenagers - everyone needs time to renew. Nature gives peace, and asks only to be carefully tended so others may be able to do the same. Leave no trace, tread lightly and help keep our wild areas well for the next season for all to appreciate and marvel at its beauty. In nature, we can always find beauty and solace - we only need to go there to know and appreciate. So, GO already!!
Happiness....what is it exactly, and how does one find it?
This is a question likely many have asked at some time in our life and yet it seems that only a small percentage of people have found the answer. Why? While I doubt I can fully answer this in this short blog, I would like to give some thoughts that might transform your attention, and perhaps help you see how things get in the way of finding your happy place.
Do you carry assumptions to which you cannot let go? Do you hear yourself saying things like: I won't be able to do that. I'm not going to be able to talk to that person because they will never understand. We are from different cultures (religions, beliefs, backgrounds, political party, ethnicity, etc. etc.) and are completely different, and will never get along. These are thoughts that can be driven by fear, ignorance and lack of understanding. They block our potential to see, and limit our ability to let go of past assumptions, and lead us away from what might be a great and positive experience. Wars and conflicts are fought because each side holds onto assumptions that they will not get past, or long held beliefs about something or someone gone unchallenged and long beyond the desire or willingness to compromise or to understand. These assumptions block the path to happiness because they block our ability to be objective and open minded - it's easier to hold on to them than to challenge our own thoughts. Yet, this is exactly what we need to do.
Our assumptions move us towards conditioned responses when faced with an issue. We think we know the answer because "we have seen it before". Until we can recognize and unlearn these, we will continue to limit ourselves and others. We assume or infer something that may not even be true, and sabotage our own growth, learning and opportunity to discover something new. We lose key things that can help us reach the path to happiness - resilience, calm, and a compassionate connection to others.
It's not an easy thing to challenge your own long held assumptions - it takes strength and resolve, and an honest evaluation of yourself. It must be a clear and deep look, not a surface glance. And the first person with whom you must be gentle and compassionate is yourself. When we open our minds to our past experiences and feelings in an accepting manner, without labeling as good or bad, without judging those feelings, we can examine events or thoughts and then simply let them go. This can open our hearts and reconnect us with our dreams and wishes and perhaps to rediscover something that was lost or obscured. We must first find and give compassion and forgiveness to ourselves before we can extend it to others.
This, I believe, is a huge step that can guide us onto the path to happiness. When we learn compassion and give it more truly and freely, we get in touch with the better part of us. We start to consider how to relate to the world and accept things more easily, more graciously and with less stress. We see that feelings and even life itself is impermanent and fleeting and not as solid as we might have thought. We develop courage because we understand the truth of impermanence, the importance of this moment and our complete connection with our earth, and all its many inhabitants. Each time we move toward peace, compassion and understanding we affect everyone in the world. We become a better self and by so doing, step onto the path to happiness.